OMAGH jockey, Simon Torrens, who has just lost his claiming allowance, was seen to excellent advantage in the opener at Downpatrick on Sunday, August 8, when making virtually all to score on the John McConnell trained, ‘Ally Cay’. Favourite ‘Mollys Glory’ ran third for most, but when asked for her effort and hard ridden prior to the last, found nothing to finish second.
McConnell said: “The hurdles are there to be jumped and she seemed to jump well enough. We couldn’t believe how good she was the other day after she ran in Sligo. She had been great on the Flat, but she has been a little bit disappointing this year – I’ve changed her routine a little bit and I train her outside now. She is probably only getting fit.”
The mares hurdle saw a hard fought tussle between ‘Mullaghmore West’ (2s to 9/2) and the very well supported ‘Lighthouse Rode’ (3s to 6/4 favourite). The first named, partnered by Brian Hayes, gave trainer John McConnell a double, scoring by half a length and a steward’s enquiry ensuing resulting in no changes. ‘Rain In Spain’ with the champion jockey, Paul Townend aboard, was beaten before three out.
McConnell said: “We were touch and go about running, so I’m glad we did now! They didn’t have any rain really since this morning.”
The finale saw McConnell complete a treble, when ‘Eco Pete’ (8s to 5/1) supplied Alex Harvey, who has just completed his leaving certificate, with his first course winner – the young rider a brother to top amateur Ben Harvey. ‘Quantum Realm’ ( 4/6 to 2/5 favourite) improved on the downhill run and led, but found nothing when challenged and folded quickly to finish runner up.
The County Meath trainer said: “It’s great to get a good day like that. I don’t know what we will do with him, we might put him away for the year and bring him back in the spring to go hurdling with him.”
‘Dollar Value’ (22s to 14/1) was the convincing winner of the featured Randox Hurdle. The Tom McCourt runner had luck on his side, as had slipped up and on his nose going out for the final circuit, but jockey Darragh O’Keefe soon had the winner back on an even keel and, having led two from home, readily held the hard ridden favourite, ‘Run For Oscar’ after the final flight. The stewards inspected the relevant section of course and re-aligned the running rail after the incident in the feature.
McCourt said: “He got very free and last year he won with a citation bit on him, because he was doing too much early in his races. We put that on him the last couple of times and he went to plant himself and I don’t know whether it was that or whether he was just in the mood today. I left everything off him today to change things. He’s not totally straightforward, but he has serious ability.”
O’Keefe added: “He stumbled and slipped, but still winged the hurdle. It was just the position of the rail prior to the hurdle out of the straight.”
The Paul Nolan trained ‘Dympanas Well’ carrying top weight and his last gasp thrust saw jockey, Sean O’Keefe prevail in the handicap hurdle. ‘Natural Breeze’ adopted her normal front running tactics only to fade into fourth uphill and it was runner up ‘Alexharwill’, which looked the likely winner until the closing strides.
Michael McKenna, representing the owner, said: “We reared the mare ‘Melancholy Hill’ and she is the first foal since we had her, and we just decided to race her and maybe breed from her later on. We were part of a horse called ‘Macs Joy’ a few years ago and he did very, very well.”
‘Ruler Of Dubai’ (50s to 20/1) produced a shock result in the long distance maiden hurdle. The locally trained, ‘I Don’t Get It’ appeared the likely winner, when jumping the final flight best as the Willie Mullins trained, favourite, ‘Recite A Prayer’ (4/6 to 6/5) floundered, but the Leslie Young (Tipperary) trained winner, with Ryan Treacy aboard, kept on gamely to overhaul the leading pair in the closing stages.
Young said: “He was second here in a handicap, so he handles here and he stays. With a rating of 89, you don’t expect to win a maiden hurdle.”
Sligo trainer, Mark McNiff rarely leaves the local track without a winner and ‘Nuttorridge’ (100/30 to 11/8 favourite), despite in the rear for most of the handicap hurdle, steadily made ground to lead at the last and score with Philip Enright in the saddle. ‘No Logic’ (33s to 10/1) finished second, but was never a threat to the easy winner, likewise ‘Viking Hoard’ (3s to 9/1), which filled third.
McNiff said: “He jumped well overall I suppose. His best run of his three in handicaps was when he was third here. It was probably his best piece of form. He will probably go to Sligo for a chase or he might come back here. The owners, the Border Busters syndicate, are from around Newcastle (Co. Down).”